Outrage over US Catholic sex abuse cover-up
Victims of child sex abuse by Catholic clerics in the US have voiced anger after newly released records showed church leaders discussing how to cover up priests’ alleged crimes in California in the 1980s.
Prosecutors said they wanted to study the previously confidential records, including memos by then Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony – although experts said the statute of limitations would likely prevent any legal action.
Excerpts from the documents were published by the Los Angeles Times, including exchanges between the now retired Cardinal Mahony and a top aide talking about how to conceal paedophile priests from law enforcement.
The records include secret memos between Cardinal Mahony and Monsignor Thomas Curry – his top aide on sexual abuse cases – about how to prevent police from investigating three priests who had admitted to the church that they had abused young boys.
Specifically, Monsignor Curry suggested stopping suspected priests from seeing therapists who might alert authorities about alleged abuse, or keeping them outside of California to avoid police investigations, the Times reported.
One such was Monsignor Peter Garcia, who admitted abusing children in mostly Spanish-speaking parishes for decades. He was sent to a New Mexico treatment centre, and Cardinal Mahony ordered that he stay outside California.
“I believe that if Monsignor Garcia were to reappear here within the archdiocese, we might very well have some type of legal action filed in both the criminal and civil sectors,” Cardinal Mahony wrote in July 1986.
“There are numerous – maybe 20 – adolescents or young adults that Peter was involved with in a first-degree felony manner,” Monsignor Curry wrote in May 1987.
Joelle Casteix of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said “we were shocked and disgusted to see these documents”.
“[Cardinal Mahony] and other high-ranking [LA clergy]… worked diligently to ensure that men who hurt children, who abused children and who destroyed communities were never going to see a day behind bars,” she said.
A spokeswoman for the LA District Attorney’s office said prosecutors “will review and evaluate all documents as they become available to us” in remarks reported by the Times.
But former DA Steve Cooley, who led a five-year probe into Catholic sex abuse, said a three-year statute of limitations meant that there was little prospect of successful prosecutions.
- Retired cardinal stripped of duties as child abuse files are released (guardian.co.uk)
- LA Archbishop Relieves Retired Cardinal Mahony Of Duties, Releases Abuse Files (npr.org)
- Cardinal Roger Mahony, victims speak out on clergy abuse (abclocal.go.com)
- Newly Released Letters Expose Decades Of Shocking Cover-Ups Of Child-Molesting Catholic Priests (addictinginfo.org)
- Cardinal Mahony rebuked as more ‘brutal’ priest abuse files released (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Cardinal Mahony says he wasn’t equipped to handle priest abuse (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- Outrage over US Catholic sex abuse cover-up (abc.net.au)